While you read this, I am likely pedaling somewhere between Santa Barbara and Charleston, completing a lifelong dream of riding my bike across the USA. Below, I'll detail the arduous days of this journey and hopefully have a tale or two to share. Meantime, I hope you'll drop me a note on these posts or send me a reply on Twitter. I will post a daily stream of my photos on Posterous. And, it would mean everything to me if you will check out my charity:water page to see how you can help bring clean water to the one billion people on the planet who need it. Thanks!
Five weeks ago, I finished the most difficult journey of my life.
When I agreed to ride my bike across the country, as with probably too
many of my commitments, I didn't spend that much time weighing the pros
and cons of such an undertaking. I just knew that I adore the American
landscape, the people of this country, and I always love my limits being pushed. So, I didn't hesitate.
Trek Travel folks and my friends all asked if I was physically prepared
for such a task. After all, the other participants on the ride had
been training for months, riding thousands of miles. The truth was, I
was fat and definitely not in riding shape. I didn't even own a
legitimate road bike when I sent in the release forms for the trip.
Yet, I knew, and those who are close to me knew, one of my defining
traits, is an extremely high, often irresponsible, tolerance for pain.
Ultimately, I was confident I could hang in there long enough to get
fit along the way.
However, in the days leading up to the trip, I completely failed to assess
how mentally and emotionally
draining this ride would prove to be. Unlike my body, which grew
increasingly strong and resilient as the days went by, my mind was
weary. Each morning, I would wake up before dawn, and venture out into
temperatures below freezing, knowing that I would be on my bike for
another eight hours. Chilled to the bone, I would look down at my
odometer and realize I had only traveled 3.6 miles so far and be
slapped with the realization I had a negligible 119 miles more to go.
had certainly ridden long distances before this trip. While training for
Ironmans, we would ride 100+ mile days. But, I had never done such big
rides on back-to-back days, let alone a handful in a row. Ugh. Getting up and motivating became the
biggest challenge. Some of the folks on our trip would take days off, or get in the
van during inclement weather. I can respect that. But, I had promised
myself I would ride every single mile. So, when I'd look out my motel
window and I'd see snow, or howling wind and rain, my heart sank.
told, I rode my bike for 34 days, covering 3,286 miles. The rest of the group rode for 35
days, but you'll recall that I had to give a speech in NYC and thus
came back to the desert and doubled up two days' worth of riding to
stay on course for pedaling every mile. I don't think I have
done anything in my life consistently over 34 days. Well, other than Twittering.
had the greatest aspirations of blogging each route and sharing this
experience with you. But, as the days went on, I actually found myself
increasingly spent, in body as well as in spirit and mind. To keep engaged, I dialed up the intensity
of my pace day after day, often turning mornings or afternoons into
one-man time trials. I'd peg my heart rate in the red and bike like I
was being chased. As my strength and conditioning improved, I would
just push myself harder. Racing across the rolling hills of Missouri,
through the forests of Tennessee, and over the snowy roads of the
Smokies was a thrill. Fueled by endorphins, my bike and I sliced
quietly through enchanting scenes in tandem with the verse of America's
This new approach came with some cost. Mainly, I
had never been so exhausted. A day of riding at full tilt, put me into
the evening's lodging a hollow shell of a man, double-fistedly conveying carbs to
my gullet without pausing for the inconvenience of chewing. After displaying my
calorically slutty tendencies to the innocent bystanders of the lobby
in said Holiday Inn Express, I would shower and climb into bed. By
7:30, I was zonked.
With that, I want to apologize for my
dwindling narrative on these pages. Your countless messages of
encouragement and support were essential to my completion of this epic
ride. The Tweets and emails you sent may have seemed token to you, but
to me they were fuel that kept me turning the cranks. My sincere thanks
for your care and your help.
returning home, I've been asked if there
were days that I wanted to quit. Yes. Every day. The rides were
daunting. My body hurt. The conditions were harrowing. Danger was
everpresent. One of our guides broke his pelvis in a fall, and I both
crashed twice and bounced off cars twice. (When your worried mom reads your
Tweets, these aren't the kind of things you are eager to include in
your daily reports.)
At the same time, every day was a gift. A bounty of sights, of
personal challenge and introspection, a recurring introduction to the vibrant and gritty
people of our nation. Despite the often comically harrowing circumstances, I cherished each day out there. While the curmudgeon in me would ask my
mates, "Are we really doing this again today?" the explorer in me was electric. At some points, I would ride my bike up onto the
sidewalks and bunny hop the railroad tracks like I was on the BMX rigs of my youth. At
other times, I felt like a wide-eyed student, with each quiet revolution of the wheels
teaching me a humbling awareness and presence and a steady wind past my ears echoing a reminder of peace within activity.
The peak of my
experience, came quite literally, in my push to the crest of the
Newfound Gap, the 5048' pass through the Great Smoky Mountains that
marks the border between Tennessee and North Carolina. Though the day
started with my hallmark morning lethargy, the raw energy of the
national park, its autumnal coat, and its rushing waters flipped a
switch in me and I pedaled with abandon. If you know this road, then
you are quite familiar with its singular direction: up. The more I
spun, the sooner I climbed into a bracing, snowy canopy. With each
switchback, and the road's unrelenting grade, the road was wet, then slushy, and I weaved
through hesitant cars driven by snow-stymied Floridians. As
the inches accumulated on the ground, I accelerated. With each fishtail of my rear wheel, I laughed
and hooted with a carefree exuberance. Oh, to be alive in the
snow with a racing heart and heaving lungs.
How have I not been to Nashville before? I mean, a city that is all about live music, BBQ'd meats, letterpress printing, and cowboy shirts?! I feel like nothing short of a conspiracy has kept this place off my radar until now. How fortunate though that I finally am experiencing this national treasure. While I have a pretty plush perch at the Hermitage, just blocks away, I have been headfirst into the grungy honky-tonks, record shops, and western wear stores that, if you know my wardrobe, are an indulgent dream.
These last 36 hours have been time off to recover from another week of intense riding. The mileage hasn't changed, but the landscape introduced a lot more climbing, and the deluge of rain didn't necessarily make it all easier.
I finally got my Trek Madone 6.9 back in action this week (many thanks to John Burke at Trek Bikes, Lance Armstrong, and the Trek Travel mechanics, Dan and Berkas, who pulled together to get it back on the road). That bike is so damn fast that I felt I just needed to push myself to put in some performances worthy of it. Thus, the last few mornings I ignored all advice to pace myself and just went out of the gate with reckless abandon. And, oh boy, has it felt great to push my heart rate into the red and keep it there for 100 miles.
Of course, there is absolutely no reason to blow through our routes quickly. We start so early in the morning that when we arrive at the next town, rarely are our rooms ready to be inhabited. So, greasing the course only exacerbates the waiting to be done on the other end. But, there has always been a certain competitive/self-destructive/extreme gene in me that just needs to push the envelope. In that light, while my body is indescribably sore, the last few days of riding into Nashville have left me feeling alive and strong.
Tomorrow, we strike back out toward the Atlantic. Just a week left now. It has been such a privilege to explore this great country so far and I am continually digesting both the celebration of, and concern I have for, our uniquely storied nation. For now though, I want to call out a couple more of the reasons why I am riding:
I don't know of anyone who is doing more to fight on your behalf for the cause of Net Neutrality as well as the independence and diversity of news sources than Free Press. They are nonpartisan and non-profit, and focused exclusively on ensuring your unfettered access to communications platforms and the freedom and quality of information on them. I am a fan of their work and am grateful for everything they do for each of us. I would be very grateful if you would donate a few bucks to them so they can continue to kick ass. Seriously. These guys are ninjas fighting corporate interests for you. Please help me help them help us.
The Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society is a non-profit dedicated to saving Philly's homeless, abadoned, and unwanted animals. It is not just the city's largest rescue program, but is the only no-kill shelter in town. When you give to them, you are funding adoption programs, spaying and neutering, and vaccinations all with the goal of eliminating the unnecessary killing of Philly's animals. Please take a moment to check out how you can help.
Last, I need to point out that the supercool jerseys in these two photos were among those made for me by Hincapie Sportswear. Hincapie has consistently produced the best kits in cycling for years and each of their jerseys I wear while on the road invariably sparks a conversation from folks I meat along the way. George Hincapie is one of the most famous and accomplished cyclists in the world and, he and his brother Rich, take that same drive and put it into all the apparel they produce. I am beyond grateful for the chance to get suited up in Hincapie gear everyday. Be sure to check out what they can make for you.
And, on that note, I am shutting the lid on this laptop because a mere 126 miles await me in the morning. See you in Crossville, TN.
The last few days through Missouri were a treat, and after a ferry ride across the Mississippi, and a 7-mile blink through Kentucky, I landed tonight in Union City, Tennessee. The rolling hills of the last few rides made for challenging outings, but I appreciated the variety compared to, say, Oklahoma. With my new/old bike back under me, I have been feeling pretty aggressive and going out harder with each workout. For instance, today I broke a personal record getting 100 miles done at a 20.3/mph pace and felt great afterward.
But, as many of you know, this trip isn't just about the riding itself. When I announced that I was heading out across the country, I invited you to send me jerseys from your companies and organizations and the response put a big smile on my face. I have been wearing these "kits" as they are called in cycling, across the country, and now is the time to start featuring them to all of you.
Not presenting these in any particular order, but it seems fitting to start with a non-profit related to bikes. Freiker is an organization that works with school kids to encourage them to walk or bike to school. It's just that simple. To do this, Freiker builds recording and scoring systems to track the progress of the kids and provides incentives so the kids are rewarded for their efforts. As childhood obesity exceeds epidemic proportions, I am thrilled to see a group building fitness and health awareness into the lives of these kids. It would be great if you could give them a few bucks so that can continue this important work. Donate here.
Formerly known as Columbus Children's Hospital, Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, is dedicated to improving the lives of all sick kids regardless of their ability to pay. At a time when the health care debate has been besieged by acrimonious politics, it is refreshing to be reminded of those institutions within our convoluted system who have committed to making sure everyone who needs care gets access to care. This is doubly so for those who treat children. Such a commitment comes with substantial cost though, and they could definitely use your help. Click here to learn more and donate.
While not a non-profit in the traditional sense, Levi Leipheimer, a friend of mine and one of our country's best cyclists ever, hosts an annual event called "Levi Leipheimer's Kind Ridge GranFondo". Not a bike race per se, it is more of a huge group ride through the Northern California's wine country open to participation by folks of all abilities from amateur pedalers to seasoned pros. Over three thousand people joined Levi this year and all of my pals who were there said it was a blast. The coolest part is that all the proceeds go toward charitable causes including Forget Me Not Farm, a supercool place that pairs at-risk youth with animals at the Sonoma County SPCA and Humane Society to learn and heal with one another. Be sure to sign up here to know when tickets go on sale for next year. They are guaranteed to sell out.
All right, stay tuned for lots more jerseys and even a chance soon to win a full Twitter kit! (Only four exist!)
Between me and a day off in Branson, MO were a mere 90 miles. Should have been pretty routine. However, when that morning's perusal of the Weather Channel revealed a 100% chance of rain, I knew it was going to be a sloppy haul.
Thankfully, the first third of the ride, though overshadowed by looming clouds, was dry and rewarding. The Missouri tableau feels familiar to a kid who grew up on the east coast. The county roads I navigated were quaint. That said, this state has a patent on the rolling hill. The ride though only gaining 90 feet of net elevation, promised over 7,000 feet of climbing from rollercoaster apex to apex.
As I settled in to a rhythm, modern meteorology fulfilled its promise and a howling tailwind rushed in a veritable torrent of cold rain. It was the kind of storm that renders the road surface so unfit that you can't help but cackle to yourself as you press on. It just got plain silly at times.
So, rather than take the traditional half hour lunch stop, my buddy Tim and I decided to quickly stuff our faces and push back out onto the road right away. Pain is temporary. Warm showers and beds are forever. At least, that's what we kept telling ourselves on each pull up the hills through the singularly beautiful Mark Twain National Forest.
With 10 miles to go, it became clear we were in the vicinity of Branson when the billboards besieged the roadway creating a virtual funnel toward the most aggressively Real American entertainment destination in the world. I could barely focus on the pavement as my eyes darted from promotion to promotion. Imagine a ceaselessly dazzling yet apparently timeless array of performers each with their own permanent theaters. (Wikipedia lists 39 permanent venues in Branson!) Families who sing and dance, pets who perform comedy, caricatured redneck a capella country revues with flat rate pricing for your whole brood!
I grew up minutes from Niagara Falls, and by proximity was regularly immersed in the inescapable gravity of extreme tourism. I have been countless times to Vegas and both driven and walked the Strip experiencing its pandering assault and commercial battery. Neither can compare to the ride into Branson.
My delight and wonderment was interrupted by an unfortunately timed flat tire. Under 5 miles to ride and the sharp crushed stone of Branson's streets sliced through my tube and left me wrestling with wet rubber and CO2 cartridges in the downpour as Ma & Pa McSpendy drove their "America Bless God" Buick from the gravy-plumbed lunch buffet to the chocolate shop where, and I assure you this is the case, they now sell fudge by the foot. Yes, wickedly caloric vending in units of length.
A newly reinforced wheel on my steed and I was back rolling into the heart of this grand institution. Marquees illuminating the unabashedly gray skies with names like Andy Williams and Johnny Mathis. Sure you thought these guys were dead, and they may very well be. Just not each day at 2:00 & 8:00 (though dark on Mondays).
With a mile left to go, I flatted again. But, I held a vote among my numbing fingers and, though the ensuing debate was uncharacteristically acerbic, and despite one abstention, they voted overwhelmingly to skip changing the tire and ride in on a flat. How right they were. Minutes later, I found myself basking in the climate-controlled and passive-aggressively Muzaked lobby of the Hilton Promenade. Earned warmth.
After a delicious meal which I complemented with a bottle of our Lowercase Roussanne (follow @lowercasewines on Twitter to learn more about my winery) I returned to my room preparing for anachronistic hibernation. Checking the Tweets one last time before the stop at Snoozeville and I see a note from the mayor of Branson (@bransonmayor). Holy cow did I get a kick out of that.
I was particularly impressed that the mayor was still very welcoming and hospitable to me despite the Tweet that alerted her to my presence pointing out that this must be the whitest city in the country. Let me pause there to defend that remark. I am not merely stereotyping this place as a god-fearing figment of Sarah Palin's most tantalizing fantasies. I empirically assert that in the more than 24 hours I have been here I have yet to see a single black person. Not one. And, they certainly weren't on any of the billboards. (Though, to be fair, Yakov Smirnoff is featured twice on the way in.) Wikipedia says that African-Americans comprise .84% of the population here, but my hours of strolling about town have yet to reveal any. Not saying I get the sense they aren't welcome here. Rather, I am guessing they tend to opt out. I was actually looking forward to interviewing the first black person I encountered.
For now, as I pack away the jackpot of western shirts I purchased, and prepare for tonight's 8:00 show at the Presley's Country Jubilee (owned, in fact, by the Mayor), from outside my hotel window, I am being serenaded by a boggling display of synchronized fountains and 20 foot high choreographed bursts of fire all set to classic rock. Branson's peculiarity and unapologetically branded celebration of our trademarked heritage demands that I come back again and dive into this place for a few days. Not kidding. I will be back very soon. This place just cannot be missed.
I don't mean to harp on Oklahoma. Put aside the anomalous police harassment, and the people were exceptionally kind and welcoming.
But, there is no denying how horrible a place it was to ride. Forget everything you ever learned in science class about prevailing wind patterns, the jet stream does not impact what is happening at ground level. So, in OK, the wind is a strong, consistent, unrelenting blast from the East. All day.
On top of that, while the weather is beating you up, frankly, there isn't much to look at. No real geological features, few homes or trees, and the downtowns through which I pedaled were absolutely deserted. I mean, empty to a degree that it was creepy.
Thus, today, as I crossed over the stateline into Missouri I was beyond relieved and elated. 112 miles from Bartlesville, OK to Neosho, MO couldn't have felt better.
This entire trip has conditioned my body for senior citizenship. I wake up between 5 and 6 am each day without an alarm, and sit down to dinner at 5:30 or 6 pm. In between, I only talk about the weather and the state of the local roads.
But, this morning, before I roused myself out of bed, I was awakened as my motel was tossed by the gale force winds and driving rain outside. Great. I couldn't wait to pay aggregate penance for all of my life's sins by trudging yet another day across this crucible of a state. I donned my rain gear, slugged down some treats from the inexcusably familiar Holiday Inn Express breakfast buffet, and hit the road.
Yet, undoubtedly to spite my preparation, the weather promptly took a left toward wonderful. The sun came out and the wind took a moment to catch its breath. What a respite! And so it was that today evolved into a beautiful ride across the Osage Indian Reservation into Bartlesville, OK. The best miles of our route crossed reassuringly bucolic lands by way of single lane roads canopied by autumnally radiant leaves.
Today's 72 miles were a catharsis and an impressionable reminder of why I am doing all this.
After three 100+ mile riding days, I was relieved to see only 72 miles on the schedule for today. That said, no matter how long the stretch ahead, it is never easy to roll out of the hotel into the rain and wind. Alas, a two-wheeled scoot was my only option, so I clicked in and pointed East.
As before, there really isn't much to say about the Oklahoman landscape. It is flat, barren, and primarily devoid of people. It can actually be spooky out there when you don't encounter any humans for a while.
In any event, I was looking forward to being done with the day. I was cold, still sore from the last few days, and just ready to be off the bike. I mean, you know a man is getting desperate when he starts fantasizing about the awaiting Holiday Inn Express.
Four miles from said lodging, one of my riding buddies got a flat and stopped to fix it. I soft-pedaled ahead a bit to keep my legs limber, and soon found myself next to a Conoco Phillips refinery and pipeline. The facility was an impressive tangle of piping and iron framing. Say what you will about the petroleum industry, this was truly a marvel of mechanical engineering.
As I've done the entire length of this trip, I whipped out my iPhone to grab a few snaps of the plant whose discharging spires appeared to be Oklahoma's best attempt at a forest. I stopped my bike on the highway shoulder, framed a couple of pics triggering the shutter with my numb fingers, and headed back down the road.
About the time my mates caught up to me to cycle the rest of the way in, a rent-a-cop presumably from the oil company pulled his pickup truck right in front of my moving bike ordering me to stop and come with him as the "pictures [I] took are illegal."
Well, I didn't even know where to start in terms of responding. But, you can take it as bible that I will never, ever stop for a private security guard when I am riding on a public street. Pedaling away gave me a chance to temper the vitriol I felt for the Patriot Act heroism in which this fascist attempted to wrap himself.
Of course, he followed me down the street, giving me a chance to take a picture of his truck. (I thought that was too funny an opportunity to pass up.) As he soon gave up and pulled away, I turned to my buddy and remarked that he undoubtedly relinquished pursuit because there was now an APB out on me. We chuckled and kept riding. Sure enough, within two minutes, a passing cruiser from the opposing traffic spun around, blared an unmistakable police horn, and ordered me to pull over. It was Ponca City, Oklahoma's finest.
So, picture this: I am decked out in my LIVESTRONG kit sweaty from 70+ miles ridden today, and now standing in a strip mall parking lot, a police cruiser parked diagonally across the entrance/exit, doors ajar, and two officers approaching me ordering me to come to them.
This next detail is just too good. The younger officer, as he approached me, hiked up his belt while simultaneously spitting his chaw at my feet. He was right out of central casting. If I wasn't so scared shitless that I was on my way to Guantanamo, I would have laughed my ass off at how faithfully he portrayedthe role of redneck cop. Next to him was another officer in plain clothes, but clearly sporting his badge evidencing he was indeed the chief. Holy cow. They brought the chief.
They asked who I was, where I was from, and what I was doing taking pictures of the refinery. I explained that I am riding across the country and taking pictures of everything I see for the benefit of you all. They let me know that they are on high alert when it comes to the security of the oil facilities and I had been profiled as a potential threat. The situation was tense and a bit of a standoff ensued. I think they expected me to surrender my photos.
In an effort to ease all involved, I joked that I am, in fact, "guilty of having a beard" and that got them to break character for a moment. I explained that the pictures I took were snapped with an iPhone and posed no threat. They made clear to me that it was illegal to take any photographs at all of the Conoco Phillips installation. I countered that there were no signs posted and I was on a public highway shoulder. Of course, they responded that "homeland security rules" make it illegal to take pictures of such a place. (I am bummed I went to law school to learn a bunch of laws and now still have to go to rule school to get up to speed on all of these new rules.)
Throughout this trying interaction, I was worried they were going to ask me for my phone, and there was no way I was going to hand it over. I know to some of you that will sound almost childish. However, it is just so fundamental an issue to me that my property would not be subject to search or confiscation. I can say with unwavering certainty that I would have taken a ride downtown before giving up my pictures no matter how crappy their quality.
Luckily, it didn't come down to that. While the cops were weighing their options, I jumped in, "Hey guys, I have a question for you. Where should I eat tonight? Who's got the best local grub?" Suddenly all of their energy was invested in explaining the various options for both kinds of food: grilled meat or smoked meat and they soon forgot about why I had been pulled over in the first place.
All told, these were not bad guys. Once they made their determination that I'm a harmless white guy merely passing through town, they were more than hospitable. But, the entire basis for their actions is frightening to me. We live in an era where a private security employee feels free to attempt to detain me on a public roadway and the Ponca City chief of police took time out to respond to a call intimating that I'm a domestic terrorist all because I took a touristy photo from the side of the road on my bike trip.
It was freezing this morning in Raton, New Mexico. Both, figuratively and literally. I bundled up and broke out my winter tights and full-fingered gloves. But, it seemed nothing was enough to take the bite out of the air. Dawn broke only on the hilltops surrounding town while I shivered in the valley on the front end of a 91 mile stretch.
Yet, the first 17 miles out of town brought a consistent uphill culminating in a couple miles of 7-9% grade. Normally, that is enough to warm one up. However, when that same climb is taking you over 7500 feet into 25 mph winds, fat chance.
Thus, the morning was a grind and I found it hard to establish any rhythm. Nevertheless, the mesa across which I pedaled was hallmarked by a startling abundance of deer, antelope, and turkeys all of which were the impetus for frost-defying smiles.
The towns through which I have ridden so far almost all bear the scars of economic misfortune and systemic shift away from agriculture. Downtowns are chronically vacant and dilapidated and the houses project tales of unarguably hard times.
Most of you who read this site come form the coasts of the US or from the UK. Each of us has been impacted by the madness of the last couple years in our own ways, and we all have our individual struggles. Nevertheless, it pains me to see entire communities at risk of extinction throughout this part of the American West.
I often find myself stopping my ride in the midst of this silent despair, and pausing to envision the brighter days for these towns. It isn't hard to imagine their parades and football games, their parks full of families, their theaters letting out entertained patrons, and their cafes bubbling with chatter. Yet, now these places are empty. Boarded up. Abandoned.
In the shadow of the contemplative morning, the 40 miles remaining boasted a 25-30 mph tailwind. Oh, how good it felt to finally have my Irish ancestry deliver on its proverb about the road rising to meet me and the wind at my back. I turned on the afterburners and powered in so fast that I once again ran out of gearing at around 35 mph so just hovered there for an hour. Nothing like a little boost from nature to leave you feeling strong.
And, so it is with a heavy heart and fresh legs that I post tonight from Clayton, New Mexico, a one stoplight outpost near the Oklahoma border.
What a difference a day and a half makes. I hit the road today with the strongest, freshest legs I've felt under me while riding. After a couple miles of spinning to warm up, I soon decided to light it. Head down, I geared up and just cranked uphill for 17 miles. At one point, the road switched back on itself revealing 200-300 of elevation gain in just one pass. Gears will always fascinate me.
The backside of that mountain provided one of the most exhilarating downhills of my life, darting around a truck as I awkwardly wrapped my body around the frame like those freaks on the tour. The road spilled out into a vast valley where winds gusting to 50 mph appeared reticent to let me be on my way.
However, once that was clear, and after a short but steep climb, it was off to the races again with a narrow, winding downhill pushing 45 mph most of the way. The single lane road had no shoulder and its sides were so close that the Fall branches created a cozy canopy enveloping the road. Through the trees shone glimpses of the palisades lining the canyon as the rustle of loose leaves gently punctuated the Doppler whir of my passing freewheel.
The landscape opened up revealing an endless plain dotted with sagebrush. A tumbleweed direct from central casting, crossed my path and I couldn't help but laugh at the Western exemplar my riding experience had become. No sooner than I made that realization and a huge bull elk leaps out in front and me and bounds across the road. I was within 40 feet and my heart stopped at the sight of such a massive beast. Just as soon as I caught my breath, another elk of the same size followed his buddy across the road, heaving his weight with unforgettable force.
It is hard to appreciate the power and beauty of such creatures until proximity to them inevitably reminds you of whose house you are in. And so, as the road continued for tens of miles straight to my destination I delighted in views of pronghorn antelope, deer, and a few herd of bison on the fabled range.
The 93 mile day wound up just a few hours after it started and I flopped into my motel bed in Raton, NM for an afternoon nap. Chicken fried chicken awaited me for dinner and I didn't want to dive in to such a treat while groggy. You know?
From Pagosa Springs, I set off on the ugliest stage of the trip. The route to Taos laid out 140 miles and over 11,000 feet of climbing to a summit of 11,200 feet. One stretch in particular promised 9 miles with a grade of 7-9%. Put simply, ugh.
I started out at first light and quickly discovered I was under-dressed. My legs were numb and the climb out of Pagosa was such a slog I kept checking to see if my tires were flat. By lunch at mile 45, I had finally warmed up and was ready to bring my A game. Which, is good. Because, the road demanded nothing less.
The climb started strong, and as it progressed, I felt more and more capable of making it happen. So, when the summit finally appeared, I was nothing short of elated. I scarfed a sandwich, snapped a pic of the breathtaking autumn vista, and set off on the downhill.
The pitch down was steep enough that most of it flew by at 35-45 mph. My 12 ring in back wasn't enough to keep up, so I just crouched and let the road take me to terminal velocity. There is little I enjoy as much as descending. Fast. Wow.
The final haul into Taos was undoubtedly a drag. Once I had cleared 110 miles, while my body was hanging in there, my mind was ready to check out. I mean, how long can a guy sit on that damn seat? I was making good time and the weather was holding up, but man, was I ready to be doing something else. So, I just kept turning 'em over and ultimately pulled into the resort at El Monte Sagrado excited for a day off. Back to back chocolate milkshakes, and 15 minutes later I was in bed for the night. At 7:30.
The 65 miles from Durango to Pagosa Springs must be one of the most scenic routes in the country. Around each corner the foliage, topography, and wildlife unfolded with such Hallmarkian precision that I chuckled over and over thinking someone was putting me on. It reminded me of late mornings on my couch in college watching Bob Ross architect his fantastical nature paintings with his hushed voice pointing out his little friends among the trees and squirrels. Here I was riding right through his world.
Another rolling recovery day, it was the perfect opportunity to relax, look up, and enjoy how lucky I am to be out here.
Ultimately, we arrived in the town of Pagosa Springs, CO, famous for its natural hot springs. As I racked my bike for the night, I went down to check out these hot tubs fed directly from the earth for myself. There were at least a dozen all with entertainingly diverse names and each bearing its own temperature readout. They ranged from 92 degrees on the refreshing side up to "The Lobster Pot" at a flesh-searing 111 degrees. The kid in me couldn't resist plunging repeatedly in The Lobster Pot and then the adjacent mountain river in all 56 degrees of its bracing splendor and then back to the pot again. It was during that idiotic rite of passage that I looked around and noticed that no one at a health springs spa ever looks very healthy.
Thus, I packed it in early and took my sulfurous skin to bed to be ready for the undoubtedly burliest stage of the trip. Tomorrow's ride to Taos, NM.
During these cross-country treks, Trek includes "rolling recovery" days. Meaning, we tackle much lower mileages at slower speeds to allow our bodies to heal. Hard to express how welcome these two days were.
Today, we rode a mere 44 miles from Cortez, CO to Durango, CO. The ride was quintessentially Colorado picturesque and bore the first marks of Fall on this trip. Just 8 miles in, I encountered a bald eagle perched nearby and stopped to appreciate him or her in silence. The rest of the ride was similarly dotted with deer, elk, and every imaginable variety of raptor. All this set against a fully autumnal palette.
We got to Durango and checked into the Strater Hotel. Man, what a historic and lively place. The employees were all in turn of the century getup and even showed us some of the secret stashes where guns and hooch were stored during prohibition. The town itself was celebrating Oktoberfest, so I helped myself to a few beers in the sun and hosted a Tweetup of locals. Such a great vibe there. Though, as a mountain town resident myself, I think I always have that feeling when I visit similar places.
I spent the time before dinner checking out a Steve McCurry photography exhibit that I found humbling and enchanting. I was stuck by how he snuck into Afghanistan to take what has been called the most recognized photo in the world and escaped back out by sewing the film into his native disguise. So daring.
With the worldly and dire context of his photos on my mind, I crossed the street and grabbed some Nepalese dinner. It wasn't until I looked at the menu that it occurred to me how decidedly "American" our dinners have been on this trip. Some tear-inducing curry and spices later, I remedied that situation and strode back to the hotel feeling peaceful, rested, and ready for tomorrow.
Waking up in Mexican Hat, I felt lethargic and had trouble getting my head in the game. I just rode 125 miles the day before and now I need to bang out another 100 on our way to Cortez, CO? I asked myself yet again what I had signed up for.
I skipped the sit-down breakfast and got an early start on the road, courtesy of a peanut butter and banana sandwich. The first half of the day was through some of the most striking landscape on the planet with rock monuments looming in all directions and a cool, gentle breeze hinting at good weather ahead.
But, miles are miles. And, cranking out over 100 of them can take its toll. The wind picked up just as the real climbing began and the landscape was predictably barren and offered no relief. You just had to tuck forward and keep 'em spinnin'.
That night, I slipped out of dinner a bit early and crept back up to my room, crawling into bed before most old people on the east coast had even considered catching some shuteye. I was beat and needed to get up bright and early.
After the heartbreak of my brand new bike's demise, I was hoping for an uneventful ride from Tuba City, AZ to Mexican Hat, UT. The planned route was 116 miles with 4900 feet of climbing, so the goal was just keep the rubber side down on my loaner bike and arrive safely in Mexican Hat.
For most of the day, this was indeed the case. Riding through dramatic landscapes, the weather staying clear and mild. I climbed into a paceline with some moderately exerting pals, and life was good. At one point though, a rider had gone off the front. That is, he had unknowingly pedaled too hard leaving the others struggling to catch up. I reassured everyone I would sprint up to catch him. What happened next you wouldn't believe without a picture.
As I stood up on my pedals and started cranking hard to sprint up to the rider ahead, I felt a sudden slip in the power transfer on my bike. I immediately pulled up wondering what had happened. At first glance, everything seemed groovy. However, as I went to pedal again, I quickly realized the two crank arms were no longer opposite each other, but were almost parallel.
I pulled over to the side of the road as the other riders chuckled at my solidifying reputation as a bike killer. My preliminary diagnosis was that it was just the crank arm attachment becoming loose and needed to be tightened. I gave the screws a couple turns with an Allen key and confidently mounted up to continue the ride.
A mere two pedal strokes later, my left crank arm is hurling across the street into oncoming traffic while my entire right crank arm, chain ring, and half the bottom bracket explode out to the right side still attached to my shoe. Needless to say, the peanut gallery was in hysterics.
I sent the other riders along because, thankfully, this is a Trek Travel trip and a mechanic soon came along to literally build a fresh bottom bracket on the scene. Within a half hour I was rolling again and happy to be doing so.
Unfortunately, my forward progress was impeded by some poorly written directions that, just after crossing the border into Utah, sent me uphill to the Monument Valley visitor center. By the time the error became clear to me, I had already logged 4.5 miles off the main route. Thus, the day's final tally came to 125 miles with most of that alone.
Finally arriving in Mexican Hat, I was ready to eat. Thus it was a treat to visit the Swingin' Steak, so named because the chef keeps the grill in a constant pendulum over the coals of the fire ensuring even cooking while reducing flare-ups. The whole thing just looked downright macho and the steaks that came off it kicked ass.
It was a long day across some fascinating countryside and, ultimately, I just felt lucky to be crawling into bed.
Today was intended to be a relatively easy 84 miles from the Grand Canyon to Tub City, the unofficial capital of the Navajo nation. Our first international leg!
The morning was brisk and, frankly, a welcome respite from the sweltering heat that has accompanied every single one of my miles since Santa Barbara. We left the South Rim at a swift spin and my body was feeling good following a day out of the saddle. Life was looking up.
My bliss was soon interrupted by what was nothing short of catastrophic bike failure. While shifting gears, my rear derailleur gave up and heaved itself into my spokes cracking into a useless heap and ripping from the frame hanger. Had it stopped there, I could have waited a couple of days for some replacement parts. Unfortunately, the momentum of my pedaling hurled the derailleur, now wedged in the spokes, up and around into my frame, shattering the carbon of the stay. Game over little buddy.
While the Trek Travel folks do have a spare bike or two and got me back riding again, I have to admit I am sad to see my mere four-week-old ride meet its end in the prime of its youth.
Hopping on a loaner bike, I enjoyed a couple thousand feet of downhill on the way out of the park and along the Little Colorado River Gorge. The scenery was astounding and gravity was boosting my spirits. Alas, the conditions couldn't hold up forever.
Sure enough, with 27 miles to go on my ride, a left turn put me directly into a 25 mph headwind that swirling, driving windstorms with it and almost comical gusts shoving me across the road without warning. While not aerobically difficult, the ride was nonetheless a challenge as it reminded me yet again: when is this wind going to be at our back?
Eventually, I pulled into Tuba City in the Navajo nation. Predictably, the area is acutely poor and evidences an economic desperation eclipsing what I have seen in the hardest hit of the Central Valley in California.
On my last mile of riding, I noticed an almost incongruous skate park teeming with local kids. After a quick shower, I stopped by and checked in with all the young shredders on behalf of the Tony Hawk Foundation. (More on this tomorrow). They were happy, sharp, witty, and sincere. And, it all made my day.
So, as I fall asleep before 90% of the senior citizens in this country, and as I think back about my bike's bad luck, I nevertheless have a big smile on my face thanks to those skaters and the overall sense of gratitude that comes with having this opportunity to see and experience so much of America.
After a grueling ride into Grand Canyon National Park, I was ready for a day off. My body was beyond sore, my bike unforgiving, and my mind wandering. It was just starting to sink in that I have an entire month of this ahead of me still.
I was lucky enough to have visited the Grand Canyon with my parents as a kid and hike down to the bottom. I returned later during law school and got to explore it again. Nevertheless, despite my familiarity with it, I am not sure I have ever seen anything as breathtaking in my life.
The forms, the colors, the depth, the volume. All combine to leave me speechlessly humbled. So there I was, hobbling around the park, pausing to digest both what I saw and the commitment I made to this trip.
Still numb from my Lawrence of Arabia inspired traversal of the Mojave, I was late to the start of the next morning's ride. Looked like it would be another day alone in the saddle. The plan was to cover 85 miles and arrive in Kingman, AZ just over 3,000 feet higher than where I started.
After a quick stretch at 35 mph downhill on the Interstate, I turned on to Historic Route 66. Wow. The pavement looked like it had last been taken care of in 1966. But, so excited to experience veritable Americana. At least, I was excited for the first .8 miles before my tire went flat. While changing it buzzards started circling and I took that as a less than optimistic sign about my chances that day. Nevertheless, I plodded ahead, thanking Mother Earth for the brief respite from the soul-draining 108 degree days by rewarding me with a relatively temperate 101 degree balm.
Lunch was in a hoot of an old town called Oatman. Here, you need to stay vigilant as the roads are besieged by wild burros. Not kidding. I wove my bike in and out of them while approaching the center of this hamlet. Minutes later, while I am still laughing out loud about my encounter with big game, I am snapped to attention by... a gunfight. Yep, the rowdy locals stage hourly reenactments of heists gone wrong complete with corny one-liners and audience cajoling. Hokey biker vaudevillian at its finest, with the biggest laughs coming from the abundance of Swedes who
rented Harleys and donned baggy leathers over their fit wiry frames.
I was glad to have lightened my spirits, because the next two hours of riding left me depressed as I shouted regrets about any pizza or ice cream I had ordered for the last year. Punishing switchbacks abounded as I chugged up to Sitegreaves Pass, where I am pretty sure my gasping frightened away the bighorn sheep I merely glimpsed.
Thankfully, in the inevitable yin and yang that is riding hills on a bike, the far side of the pass offered a seemingly endless downhill into a wide open plane. Arms in front, steering with my elbows, and cornering irresponsibly, I raced traffic and relived my time preparing for Ironmans while on my time trial bike. Man, did that feel cathartic. Well, until my tire flatted again in the middle of what felt like a 20 mile wide greased skillet on high heat. For me, right up there with bad customer service, IRS audits, and unattributed retweets, are flat tires. Ugh.
My mojo decidedly hobbled by 10 minutes of wrestling with my wheel in the hot AZ dust, I couldn't wait to be done with our ride. Route 66 or not, I was looking forward to a delicious beverage and a dip in a pool. Thus, as I rounded the corner to find Kingman, I couldn't have been more pleased. My joy was heightened even more by three discoveries: 1) They were holding full-on drag racing championships in the main square 2) The event was being guarded by a bunch of retirees in police uniforms with cars that said "Volunteer Posse" and 3) Mr. D'z diner knows how to make a lethal Root Beer float (with chocolate ice cream is how I prefer mine, no matter how questionable that may sound to you). It was a quintessential American experience.
Not much to report in the way of nightlife. Bedtime comes early in this part of the country. It does for me, at least considering what time we roll in the morning.
Thus, for now, thanks to all of you for your Tweets and comments. They mean a lot to me and I wish I weren't too pooped to reply to them all.
My NYC trip was uneventful, if not surreal. I mean, one afternoon I am on the receiving end of some Mojave whoop-ass, the next, I am standing at a podium high above the Meat Packing District. Happy to say the audience was pleased (their check cleared) and, without a moment to celebrate, I was back on a plane to Palm Springs.
My brother Brian (aka @saccasacca of www.peteandbrian.com fame) enthusiastically greeted me at the airport late that night. Like my dad (@thekooze), Brian takes enigmatic amounts of pleasure in maps and travel logistics. As he whisked me away to Twentynine Palms, Brian not only had memorized the route, but was already starting to break it to me: tomorrow's bike ride sounded stupid.
We hit Safeway, obtaining all manner of solid and liquid carbs, filling the trunk of his Subaru wagon to capacity with calories. My hope was to catch some shuteye at the preciously eclectic Twentynine Palms Inn, but alas, I was nervous and couldn't sleep well, awaking with nightmares that my GPS wasn't charged or I ran out of CO2 cartridges.
When the alarm finally buzzed, I just put my mind into autopilot, Brian groggily reassessing what he had signed up for. After all, it was 7AM and already 90 degrees outside.
We drove 26 miles east of town to the spot where the Trek Travel van had picked me up about 36 hours before. I think maps refer to that location as "F'ing Nowhere" but, I will have to check on that. In any event, it thus began.
It would be 65 miles until the first glimpse of a service station. Until then, head down cranking a solo 18 mph into the wind on a seemingly Saharan treadmill. On I went, traversing undulating dunes, dodging actual tumbleweed, and encountering ghost towns whose only curiosity is why someone would have lived there in the first place.
While stopped at an unmarked intersection double-checking our route, a rugged biker sporting a "Fuck The World" patch pulled up to us on his Hog. He wanted directions to a neighboring town. When Brian told him it looked like that place was 45 minutes away, Mike, as he told us his gang "The Righteous Ones" called him, assured my brother he could cover that ground in 20 minutes. He asked what I was doing on a bike out there and when I told him, he replied with no hesitation, "What an asshole!" When I pointed out that my brother was there to help me along the way he looked at Brian and exclaimed "Well then, I hate you even more, man!" We all chuckled together because, well, we didn't seem to have a choice. Mike had a large gun bubble-wrapped and attached to his handlebars.
Back to the grind, every fifteen minutes, Brian and I would sloppily execute a hot swap of refilled bottles of water, Cytomax, Gatorade, anything cold. If it were frosty, I would have pounded a bottle of Windex. Mile after mile, the sun was unrelenting and I took the wind from the East as a personal affront.
When we passed by the river crossing to Parker, AZ, the temperature was 108 degrees. Upon that reading, the day became downright laughable. Brian and I descended into dementia where we suddenly were finding humor in pretty much anything, and particularly the gargantuan RVs toting boats to Lake Havasu whose unwaveringly consistent passing produced rushes of air that sounded like the tides of an oil baron's fantasy ocean.
One hundred and forty-one miles later, my body encrusted in salt, I spotted the absurdly anomalous London Bridge in Lake Havasu City and within 10 minutes was celebrating one of the top five showers of my life in my opulent Hampton Inn accommodations.
Brian, without whom I never could have approached this feat, let alone accomplished it, was an absolute pillar. He and I grew up constantly cracking each other up. So, he knew that the best way to encourage me across 141 miles of that mercurial anvil would be to make with the funny. And so it was that I crossed the desert courtesy of some bad jokes, a couple of hastily assembled sandwiches, and what Brian calculated to be 4.5 gallons worth of fluid.
Many of you on Twitter encouraged me to go grab a beer and toast the inexcusability of riding on such a day. But, the reality was much less pretty. Brian and I hit the In-N-Out where I proceeded to eat 3,000 calories of fat and still feel hungry, and by 7:30 I was in my bed asleep.
Just climbed aboard my plane back to the desert for tomorrow's ride. No great tales to relate today. Just reveled in the relative cool of NYC and tried to come to grips with the absurdity of this trip. So, for all of you Twittering that I should include more pics from the route, here is a gratuitous self-portrait from yesterday near Joshua Tree. Missing my endorphin buzz and can't wait to get back out there.
So, let me explain right up front what the heck I am talking about.
I mean, I am supposed to be cycling cross-country and, at last check,
my pedaling had delivered me to Twentynine Palms, CA. Thus, what does
New York City have to do with anything?!
When I decided last minute to make this 40-day trek, I was thereby
committing to refuse/cancel a number of meetings, consultations, and
speaking engagements already scheduled for that time. All were amicably
rescheduled, and I look forward to getting back in the professional
saddle in November.
That said, there was one particular commitment that I made over a year ago to a good friend in New York,
promising to come in and help his large private equity/hedge fund's
management team reposition themselves to encourage more internal
innovation. When it comes to friends, I just can't bail.
The result? A car just picked me up from the 29 Palms Inn and
whisked me to the Palm Springs Airport. The redeye I am boarding right now will put me in Manhattan
for a couple of quick meetings and this consultation and, by late
afternoon, I am back on a plane to Palm Springs.
Now, in the meantime, my group goes on without me, pushing from
Twentynine Palms across some unforgiving desert into Parker, AZ. I
could skip one of the legs of this journey and just pick back up with
them. But, if you know me at all, you can confirm that I would never
let myself cut a corner like that.
Thus, Plan B. My brother Brian (@saccasacca and one half of the
comedy duo www.peteandbrian.com) is coming up to Palm Springs to fetch
me, and, after a good night's sleep in Twentynine Palms on the 17th, I
am going to wake up inexcusably early and ride like the wind to catch
the rest of my group. Brian will support the ride from his car and
generally shout all kinds of disparagement disguised as motivational
My Trek group is riding 111 miles tomorrow and 44 miles (rolling
recovery day) the day after. In a move that shows the measurable
disregard I have for my own well-being, I plan to rack up both of those
stages at once arriving in Lake Havasu City in time for dinner on the 17th. 155 miles? Yikes!
At this point, the lightbulb has gone off for some of you. "A-ha!
Now I know why Sacca put in those extra miles today!" Exactly. In the
fine tradition of 'paying it forward', I decided to bag 26 bonus miles
on today's stage and thereby shorten what I owe on the 155 miler. Make
sense? The math probably does, even if you still can't understand why I
would do all this to myself.
Anyway, off to polish some slides and polish off a shocking number of calories.
Hustling to get on a plane, so this is a necessarily short post and one without cool GPS data. Bottom line: I was back today. Felt strong all day and absolutely hammered out miles. We did the 91 planned miles at 19mph average and I then went on to ride 26 more.
The heat was staggering. Absolutely searing. I must have chugged through over a dozen bottles of water and Cytomax. There was one point where I swore I would have murdered someone for a Slurpee.
I did suffer two flats. Never fun, particularly when you have to change them on a shadeless expanse of road with no services for 90 miles. But, I am getting my technique dialed in and my pit stops are quicker than ever.
All told, feeling good to have my cycling legs back and ready to go the distance. Thanks for all of your cheers. They mean a lot to me.
Day two was a 91 mile stretch from Valencia to Victorville, and it was not easy. We got an early start in the hopes of beating the looming afternoon heat. I pulled the line a good deal right off the bat as my legs were feeling fresh. But, as soon as we hit the real hills, I was slapped with a reminder of the repercussions of ordering extra desserts for a year since my last Ironman. Holy cow was I eating from a super-sized buffet of fatboy humility.
The continuous 2,500 feet of climbing showed absolutely no mercy. Once I did reach the other side of the peaks, I owed another 70 miles across the Mojave Desert, with the prevailing winds coming at me from the North. Lucky me. Nevertheless, I persevered, fueled by the beautifully desolate landscape, and an assortment of delicious candies. All was looking good and I was settling into a welcome rhythm.
Until... I ate shit. Yep, any of you who has played any sport with me know that I have a propensity for crashing in style. I rarely find myself a victim of minor mishaps. Rather, I always turn in spectacular wipeouts. Today was no exception.
Quite simply, while were all distracted by a small airplane graveyard we passed, I touched wheels with another rider in our paceline and as I swerved right to regain control, I found myself biking through 8-10 inches of sand. The rolling properties of skinny wheels in loose sediment are limited. Thus, I went down hard, leaving a divot that appeared to be the result of meteorite activity. The pros of ending up in that much sand? The actual impact on the ground wasn't bad at all. Cons? Well, apart from looking like I had just been beat up at the beach by Tony Atlas, my newborn bike was none too happy about the grit bath. In fact, for the next 20 miles, I had at my disposal only one gear (had to choose wisely and accordingly spent a lot of time out of the saddle).
From that point on, the ride was an exercise in keeping a positive attitude and re-telling myself the corniest jokes I know. (I can always use more, so please leave your least funny ones in the comments!) Obviously unimpressed by my attempts at humor, the heat was unrelenting, the sun refused to keep it hands off me, and the wind had different ideas about where I should end up. Nevertheless, thanks in large part to my buddy Joe from Team Six in Austin, I soon found myself rolling in to our illustrious flophouse for the evening and made a beeline straight for the pool. Ahhh, the restorative properties of floating in cold water.
Now, off to dinner, and then more sand removal from bike parts I didn't even know I had. Tomorrow's destination - 29 Palms, CA, another 90 miles from here. Thanks for all the good wishes. They put a smile on my face!
Woke up this morning to turn on my email away message and then stuff my jersey full of assorted gels and bars, each a stinging reminder of Ironman days. Minutes later, I rolled my bike outside (oh yeah, it sleeps with me), to smell the unmistakable peace of the morning's ocean.
The 16 of us making this trip together posed for a photo on the beach. I took part in the traditional ceremony of "dipping your wheels" into the tide's wash. Then we were off. The goal? Ventura, CA a mere 76 miles away. We pedaled South along the beach for a while, glassy rights distracting me along the way. Soon enough, we turned left up into a farm belt, rolling past orchards of oranges and fields of ripe pepper harvests.
Our group has a handful of very strong riders and I was impressed by how hard some of them charged it today. You know me, I couldn't back off either so we took some turns pulling off the front and cranking 23-28 MPH. The route was well chosen and, at that pace, we were done quickly, allowing me to watch my beloved Buffalo Bills back in the hotel.
Fingers crossed that Advil works it magic and I find strong legs again with me tomorrow. But, for now, I couldn't be happier about how we kicked off this adventure.
Starting September 14th, I am joining a small group of folks on a bicycle ride across the USA guided by Trek Travel. This has been a goal of mine since I was a kid. So, when the opportunity recently presented itself, I knew I couldn't hesitate.
The trip kicks off in Santa Barbara, CA and we arrive 40 days later in Charleston, SC. On each of the 35 days during which we will be pedaling, we aim to cover an average of 90 miles. As demanding as those sessions will be, I can't wait to have such time on the road in a country I love so much, awash in an evolving landscape that has inspired me on so many cross-country roadtrips.
Though I will be out there doing the pedaling, I thought you and I could have some fun together on this trip, and hopefully, help a bunch of people in the process. Given that there are a hell of a lot of folks who read this blog and watch this Twitter account, let alone a lot of people who will surely drive by me on the side of the road, and meet me in America's towns here is what I propose...
Let's feature your non-profit.
Do you have a charity or public service organization that is working hard to make this world a better place? Does the world need to hear about them? Well, let's get your logo on a bicycle jersey (Size: Large) and I will wear it while on my trip and feature it, and a link to your group, in a Tweet to my followers. Don't have a bike jersey with your logo on it? The amazing folks at Hincapie Sportswear can make one for you. Check out their custom category here. If you have a favorite organization that you think should be featured, let them know to be in touch!
Let's tell the world about your for-profit company.
You have a great little for-profit venture that deserves some attention? Well, I have a deal for you too. You should also send me a jersey, and make a donation of $5,000 to one of these two inspiring groups:
charity:water -- Bringing clean water to the over 1 billion people on the planet who do not have access to it. $5,000 builds a freshwater well for one entire village! (Donate here)
LIVESTRONG -- Lance Armstrong's movement waging a global war on cancer and providing support and care for fighters and families along the way. (Donate here) (By the way, click here to put a LIVESTRONG bracelet on your Twitter profile picture.)
In exchange for that donation, I will wear your jersey and feature your company in a couple of Tweets to all of my followers. Think about it, that is over 1 million viewers aggregated across my Twitter and blog following. That's a $2.50 CPM! Plus, the indescribable feeling you get from knowing you are permanently improving the lives of others. [UPDATE: charity:water says that, in exchange for the $5,000 donation, they will relay your message out to their 800,000 followers as well. Wow!]
I'd like to meet you and your friends.
Maybe you don't have a non-profit or a company. Well, do you have a bike? If so, it would be a hoot to spin the pedals with you a bit. Each day, I will Tweet about where I'll be starting my ride and it would be great to meet you. For each of you who shows up for just a couple of miles, I will donate $25 to charity:water and $25 to LIVESTRONG, with a daily max of $500. I will be riding for 35 days so that's $17,500 in donations from my own pocket that I will make in your name just for showing up and riding with me! Can't make it? Let your friends know to come hang with me!
How to be in touch and small print.
Have questions? Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Have jerseys (Size: Large) or anything else fun to send me? Shoot them to my office:
Chris Sacca, 200 Townsend St. #7, San Francisco, CA 94107
(Please note, I reserve the right to make judgment calls about which non-profits and companies I will publicize. Generally speaking, I like organizations that are positive, secular, and environmentally responsible. I care a lot about my Twitter followers and refuse to take their attention for granted. Any doubts? Just drop me a note and ask.)
All told, I can't tell you how excited I am for this adventure. I am eager to see all of your great non-profits and to share their missions with the world. I also can't wait for each of you to get a better sense of the wonder and impact of charity:water and LIVESTRONG and how much they mean to me.
In addition to all of the this, I would really like to hear your ideas on what else I could do along the way to make this trip particularly special. What would you do? Any series of pictures I should take? Data to gather? Any small rituals I should be sure to practice? I hope to hear your ideas in the comments.
For now, let me just say thank you in advance to all of you, and I wish us all good luck!
Hincapie Sportswear Legendary cyclist George Hincapie and his brother Rich made so many amazing original kits for my journey including the first ever charity:water and Twitter jerseys! Stay tuned as I give you a chance to get your own.
Trek Bikes After years of riding Felt, and following some serious ball-busting from Lance, I finally gave in and bought a Trek Madone 6.9. Holy cow is this a hot bike. That said, I broke it in a freak occurrence and, I am glad to say, Trek stood by their equipment and I am back on my ride, good as new.
Trek Travel Without the love and support of the Trek Travel guides, I would still be trying to find my way out of Santa Barbara. This company is top-notch and only staffs trips with the most experienced and consistently friendly people. I feel lucky to be traveling with them.
Spotify No music service in the world comes close to what Spotify delivers. Viritually every song imaginable whenever you want to hear it. Uniquely awesome. (And, they are big helpers of charity:water!) The service is coming to the US soon so keep your eyes peeled.
Twitter Twitter is changing the world, and I feel lucky every day to be a part of this community. Thanks to all of you and to my friends who bust their asses to keep bringing it to the world.
charity:water 1 billion people on the planet don't have access to clean water. This is the best way to help fix that.